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Car use must fall by a fifth to meet our net zero aim – WYCA

07 August 2020

Private car use in West Yorkshire must be cut by at least a fifth to meet the conurbation’s pledge to be net zero carbon by 2038, according to the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

The WYCA has assessed three ways to achieve the 2038 target:

  • the ‘maximum ambition pathway’ assumes significant electrification of heat, transport and industry, supported by technology to influence energy demand, energy storage, and major increases in low carbon power generation and tree planting. 
  • the ‘high hydrogen pathway’ promotes large-scale hydrogen use and carbon capture and storage roll-out. The existing gas network would be repurposed for hydrogen, enabling significant hydrogen use in buildings, heating, industry, power and transport. The pathway also includes more tree planting and bioenergy production. 
  • the ‘balanced pathway’ encompasses a mix of technology across all sectors with contributions from hydrogen, electrification, bioenergy, carbon capture and storage, and decentralised energy production. 

Under the pathways, transport sector carbon dioxide emissions by 2038 are forecast to fall by: 

  • maximum ambition – 83 per cent 
  • high hydrogen – 71 per cent 
  • balanced – 71 per cent 

The combined authority says the transport implications are:

  • private car use must decline by between 21 and 38 per cent 
  • sales of petrol and diesel cars  must end by either 2030 or 2035
  • sales of plug-in hybrid vehicles must end by 2035 under the maximum ambition pathway but can continue beyond 2040 in other scenarios
  • sales of zero emission HGVs must increase by between 1,000 and 2,000 a year, either powered by batteries or hydrogen
  • sales of conventional petrol and diesel buses must end by 2031 across all scenarios, with vehicles either battery or hydrogen-powered
  • walking trips need to increase by at least 70 per cent and cycling by more than 2,000 per cent 
  • rail passenger kilometres must  increase by 53 percent
  • rail freight kilometres increase by up to 157 per cent
  • up to 90 per cent of passenger rail services and 75 per cent of rail freight services will need to be electric
  • domestic aviation demand needs to reduce by 20 percent
  • demand for international aviation must remain at 2020 levels, or be limited to a 25 percent increase

Overall, the pathways are assumed to deliver between a 73 per cent and 82 per cent reduction in total economy-wide emissions. “The remaining 27 percent to 18 percent could be reduced through a combination of specific, ambitious measures and innovative new technologies as they become available,” said officers. 

These could include: 

  • increasing the amount of land allocated to tree planting
  • generating more electricity from large-scale solar farms 
  • maintaining the levels of remote working seen throughout the Covid-19 pandemic
  • providing funding and support for innovative emission reduction technologies 

WYCA is not committed to any of the pathways. “It is proposed that we do not commit to a specific pathway that has been modelled in the study at this stage due to the uncertainty that exists around the deployment of specific measures identified,” said a report by WYCA senior project officer Noel Collings presented to councillors last week. “To fully commit to a pathway, we need the Government to make decisions on certain issues, including the preferred route for heat decarbonisation in our homes and buildings, support for carbon capture and storage, and national policy on reducing emissions from aviation.”

The next step in the work is the preparation of an ‘implementation roadmap’ plotting when and how each sector can reduce carbon emissions. This will be followed by an action plan. 

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